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Lessons from Magoo

Lately Magoo’s been teaching us a lot. He watches Dinosaur Train on PBS and then quizzes us on the food preferences of the various extinct species. He likes to teach me -- repeatedly -- to count to 10 using his fingers, toes, sticks and whatever else is available. He feels it imperative that I learn this important math skill. I’m not sure quite how to prove to him that I’ve pretty much mastered it already.

But his lessons are not always just about facts. Sometimes they’re about lifestyle and behavior. The other night, Laylee and Magoo were “in bed” and totally acting like psychobots, not remotely interested in anything resembling rest or slumber.

Dan went upstairs to tell the kids to be quiet. He went up again to yell at them to be quiet. He went up again, had some serious words with them in a bad-cop way to be quiet and moved Magoo into a separate room, where they wouldn’t distract each other.

A couple of minutes passed and Magoo stood at the top of the stairs and said meekly, “Dad… Dad… Hey Dad… I’m sorry… Can I talk to you please?”

Then I overheard this conversation.

“Dad. I’m sorry. Now will you please apologize to me?”

The thing is, Dan’s big on apologizing to the kids when he’s been too harsh with them. He wants to show them that even big people make mistakes and that when you do, you should make it right. However, this was the first time he’s had one of the kids demand an apology after being consistently naughty and getting called out on it. Magoo wanted to reinforce the lesson to Dan that he needed to be humble. I don’t think any parent needs to be reminded to be humble. It’s pretty much part of the whole parenting package but Magoo just wanted to make sure.

The best lesson Magoo’s taught me in the past week is to try and always have a good attitude. Thursday was one of those crazy days where I left the house before 9am and didn’t return home for more than 15 minutes at a time until almost 8pm. During our 15 minute stop at home, I noticed Magoo had leaked a bit so I suggested he go upstairs and change his pants.

He walked up slowly, his head thrown back, his tongue hanging out and a huge grin on his face. I urged him to make haste. He smiled back at me and continued up the stairs. I’d periodically call upstairs to check his progress and he’d cheerfully yell down that he hadn’t made much. I kind of yelled a few times but he stayed cheerful.

Finally I demanded that he bring his clean pants and head downstairs to change where I could monitor him more closely. He walked towards me, grinning but pantless, and I started grilling him.

“If you have to go pee at River’s house, what are you going to do?”

“Go in the POTTY!”

“What will happen if you wet your pants?”

“I’ll have to wear some of River’s underwear,” he grinned wider.

“That wouldn’t be good,” I shook my head seriously.

“But that’s okay,” he said, almost consoling me, “I’d still feel happy.” He gave me a contented smile.

So here he was with a naggy mom and the possibility of embarrassing himself at his friend’s house and he knew that through it all, he’d still feel happy. I don’t even think he was trying to teach a lesson that time, just stating a fact but it got me thinking.

I don’t think “happy” is the word you’d use to describe my mood the last several days. I’ve had moments of happy and even excited but for the most part I’ve felt pretty blah and I’ve been happy to let everyone hear all about it. Maybe I should decide to just still feel happy. I’m trying, even working on the cute smile. If I had a smile like his, I’m sure I’d get myself in trouble far less than I do.